Car Battery Issues: Types and Causes

Неисправности аккумулятора: виды и причины

The battery is one of the crucial components in a vehicle. In the event of a battery malfunction, the operation of a vehicle often becomes impossible. In case of some breakdowns, you can take measures yourself to prevent the battery from complete failure.


Types of automotive battery malfunctions

Typically, malfunction of an automotive battery is caused by the formation of a crystalline lead plaque on the plates. This is why the battery stops receiving current, therefore, it does not charge. The area of the plates decreases, and so does the battery capacity.

Among the most common battery malfunctions is also an increased self-discharge rate, which is an uncontrolled reduction in battery capacity. Here, the following aspects should be taken into consideration:

  • Normally, a battery loses 0.3-0.5% of its capacity per day;
  • 1-1.5% capacity loss per day is indicative of malfunction of the device;
  • If, when a vehicle is idle, the battery loses 40-50% of its charge in 2 weeks, this indicates a breakdown;
  • If a battery is stored at plus 20 ±5°C, its discharge for 14 days should not exceed 10% of the nominal capacity.


Malfunctions of the car battery include plate deterioration. At the same time, there is a perceptible decrease in the efficiency of starting the engine. If, when turning the key in the ignition switch, the terminals start to warm up, and the starter does not rotate, the problem may lie in oxidation. In this case, there will be voltage on the battery terminals. Using the vehicle in this case is fraught with failure of the entire on-board power network.


If the battery malfunction error constantly appears on the vehicle’s dashboard after starting the motor, this may indicate a short circuit. This process is accompanied by heating of the electrolyte and a decrease in its density, as well as intensified gas liberation. Battery malfunctions also include battery polarity reversal due to improper connection and cracked battery case with leakage of electrolyte.


Неисправности аккумулятора: виды и причины


Battery malfunction reasons

Understanding the causes of battery failure is important for two reasons. First of all, such knowledge makes it possible to prevent breakdowns, avoiding risk factors. Secondly, a car enthusiast can assess the danger of using a damaged device, and sometimes even take measures to recover it on their own. One of the following may be the reason of a battery failure:

  1. Battery charging malfunction: incorrect operation of the device may cause plate deterioration and other adverse consequences;
  2. Excessive stretching of the timing belt, alternator malfunctions, voltage regulator breakdown – all this causes self-discharge of the battery;
  3. Long-term storage of the battery in a discharged state — in such a situation, the plates may collapse;
  4. Using a vehicle with a battery with a low electrolyte level – there is a risk of triggering sulfation.


Signs of an automotive battery malfunction may appear when using an electrolyte instead of distilled water, as well as a result of insufficient or irregular battery charging. A violation of the integrity of the separator also causes battery breakdowns. For example, if the lead base is damaged, a short circuit may occur.


If the battery or electrolyte is heavily contaminated, rapid self-discharge of the battery is possible. Incorrect connection with the rectifier leads to a change in the polarity of the battery, and irregular cleaning of the terminals leads to their strong oxidation. Any malfunction of the battery charger means that the charger cannot be used to charge a battery.


Неисправности аккумулятора: виды и причины


The most common signs of battery malfunction

It is important to know not only the causes, but also the signs of a breakdown. Some of them are quite obvious and clearly manifest themselves when trying to start the engine. However, there are also hidden red flags of battery malfunction, so you should pay attention to any odd signs. These include:

  • Increased voltage at the beginning of charging;
  • Rapid reduction of electrolyte density during downtime;
  • No voltage at the pole terminals;
  • Reduced total battery voltage.


Darkened electrolyte, mechanical damage to the battery case and swelling of the battery are indicative of malfunctions. Even deterioration of the battery holder should be considered an issue deep enough to cause a breakdown.


There are several ways to detect a battery malfunction. If there is a special indicator on the battery, then its black, gray or white colors indicate a problem. In the absence of such an indicator, you can use the voltage level when the motor is off as a reference. It should be 12.5-12.8 V. This means that the battery is 90-100% charged.

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